In The Know: Groups call on Governor to set SQ 802 election date, federal adjustment concerns educators, and more

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Expanding Medicaid can be life-changing for older Oklahomans: While many think expansion will mainly benefit younger Oklahomans, like new parents and others just starting their careers, it’s important to remember that older Oklahomans between the ages of 45 and 65 stand to benefit as well. Recent research suggests expansion also will improve insurance coverage, care, and save lives of those who aren’t yet old enough to qualify for Medicare. Because rural areas have a disproportionately higher population of residents over age 45, Medicaid expansion will make more health care dollars available in rural communities where they are in urgent need. [OK Policy]

Interactive maps show impact of civil service retirees in Oklahoma: In collaboration with the Oklahoma Public Employees Association and with data provided by the state’s five major retirement systems, OK Policy has developed these interactive maps showing the impact retired public employees have in Oklahoma. The maps show the number of retirees by county, as well as the retirement benefits sent each year to each county. [OK Policy]

Oklahoma Public School Resource Center Podcast: Rebecca Fine – Education Policy Analyst and KIDS COUNT Coordinator, OK Policy: In this episode Jason Mack and OPSRC Policy Director Jacque Walsh talk with OK Policy’s Rebecca Fine about Oklahoma’s current legislative session and active education bills. [OPSRC]

In The News

Group calling on Oklahoma governor to set election date for Medicaid expansion vote: An Oklahoma advocacy group is pushing for Governor Kevin Stitt to set a date for an election regarding Medicaid expansion in the Sooner State. On Wednesday morning, volunteers with Together Oklahoma say they will be delivering a petition to the governor’s office, calling for an election date to be set for the state question. [KFOR] Access to health care among Oklahomans’ biggest concern. [KOCO] OK Policy has provided information and resources to better understand the issues around SQ 802. 

‘It’s reckless’: Local superintendents concerned with federal funding adjustment: Michael Broyles called a federal bookkeeping change that could cut thousands of federal dollars from rural schools reckless. The Canadian Public Schools superintendent said his school faces a $14,757 cut in Rural Low Income Schools Program funding after the U.S. Education Department notified state education leaders it would change how districts report the number of students who live in poverty. [CNHI / McAlester News-Capital] Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister is asking the state’s Congressional delegation to come to the rescue of rural schools in Oklahoma. [CNHI / Ada News]

Fight, investigation prompt statewide prison lockdown: A Monday night fight among approximately six prisoners prompted the Department of Corrections to lock down prisons across the state. It’s the second time the prison system has gone on lockdown in less than a year. After the fight at Mack Alford Correctional Center in Stringtown, investigators discovered a possibility more fights could erupt in other prisons. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

The Oklahoman Editorial: A worthwhile push for parity in health coverage: Oklahoma lawmakers have thus far given solid support to a bill requiring that health care coverage for mental illness be on par with what’s mandated by federal law. Here’s hoping that backing continues. [Editorial Board / The Oklahoman]

Senate passes bill raising smoking age to 21: State Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, who authored Senate Bill 1423, said he simply replicated the federal Tobacco-Free Youth Act passed by Congress last December and signed into law by President Donald Trump. He noted that Oklahoma would need to adopt exact language in the federal law in order to remain eligible for certain federal funds. [Journal Record????]

Bill that would authorize display of ‘In God We Trust’ on state buildings headed to Senate: On a busy day in which nearly 70 bills passed off the House floor and sent to the Senate, members found time for two lengthy discussions on religion, politics and the state of Israel. HB 3817 requires the national motto — “In God We Trust” — be prominently displayed in “all state buildings.” [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma House passes pro-Israel bill: Oklahoma legislators on Tuesday passed legislation (HB 3967) that would result in the state picking a side in the complicated and lengthy dispute between Israel and the Palestinians. The Republican majority in the House passed a bill that would prevent the state from contracting with companies that boycott goods or services from Israel. [The Oklahoman]

Governor’s fight: Seven months ago, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced his plans to negotiate a new tribal gaming compact through an op-ed in Tulsa World. Since then, despite being a widely unpopular move even with his Republican allies, Stitt has continued fighting for an increase in the fees that the tribes pay to operate their casinos. [Oklahoma Gazette]

Attorney General Hunter joins Defense of States to limit rising cost of prescription drugs: Attorney General Mike Hunter has joined a bipartisan coalition of 46 attorneys general from across the country filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court that supports the authority of the states to address the rising cost of prescription drugs. [FOX25]

Coronavirus threat has Oklahoma hospitals, officials preparing: As confirmed cases of the new coronavirus spread in the U.S. this week, hospitals in Oklahoma are preparing for the threat of an outbreak. Oklahoma has yet to see any confirmed cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. However, hospitals and health officials have said they’re ready to treat patients in case the virus spreads to the state. [The Frontier]

Wind power’s share of state electricity production grows to 40%: In 2019, wind power accounted for 40.2% of Oklahoma’s electricity production for the first time in history, following only natural gas, which accounted for 46.3% of the state’s generation last year, according to the Advanced Power Alliance. [Journal Record????]

Residents buoyed by court ruling plan to ramp up poultry protests over well permits: Northeastern Oklahoma residents who are tired of new and expanding poultry operations plan to send more protests to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. Attorney Matt Alison, who assisted on the case, said the state water board continues to issue the 90-day permits, including one just down the road and identical to the situation that drew the protest that the firm filed leading to the decision. [Tulsa World]

Details of police oversight proposal to be discussed by city councilors Wednesday: City councilors will get their first detailed look Wednesday at a plan to establish a police oversight program as part of the city charter. A similar proposal from Mayor G.T. Bynum has been in abeyance for about six months after councilors failed to agree on certain details of the program, especially those related to police use-of-force reviews. [Tulsa World]

Tulsa police use-of-force encounters final report released, but ‘richest and most important’ dataset still to come: The University of Cincinnati and University of Texas at San Antonio are studying 30 months of Tulsa Police Department use-of-force data. The final report was written in January — but without a coded analysis of officers’ written narratives of use-of-force incidents. [Tulsa World]

1921 mass graves search: Excavation to begin April 1, agreement with Rolling Oaks Cemetery stalls: Archaeologists will begin excavating a portion of Oaklawn Cemetery with potential mass graves from the Tulsa Race Massacre on April 1. While the search at Oaklawn Cemetery is moving forward, the owner of Rolling Oaks Cemetery still has not signed an agreement with the City of Tulsa for additional surveying there, despite an announcement last month one had been reached. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Attorneys in Ada ‘Innocent Man’ case request judge vacate Ward’s conviction and sentence, point to newly uncovered evidence: Attorneys for one of the men convicted in the 1984 robbery, abduction and murder of Donna Denice Haraway in Ada are asking a judge to vacate his conviction and sentences after they say newly uncovered evidence shows investigators elicited a false confession and hid evidence showing details of the confession were fed to the defendant by police. [The Frontier]

Oklahoma Department of Commerce Executive Director talks Census impacts on state: The 2020 Census has the potential to put a few things on the table for the State of Oklahoma, according to Brent Kisling, Executive Director for Oklahoma Department of Commerce. Kisling and his department will serve as the lead for the 2020 Census, but it’s more than just counting people, he said. [Duncan Banner]

Deputies respond to complaints of electioneering outside precincts: Deputies were called to 22 precincts in Lexington, Noble, Norman, Moore and south Oklahoma City in response to voter complaints about petitioners, Cathy Singer, assistant secretary of the Cleveland County Election Board, told The Oklahoman. [The Oklahoman]

Close call: OKC parks sales tax defeated by voters: A 1/8 cent sales tax aimed at giving Oklahoma City’s parks a boost by providing added funds for operations and maintenance expenses went down in a close defeat Tuesday. The petition failed, with 52.8 percent of voters rejecting the proposal. [NonDoc]

Seven counties add liquor store access: Liquor stores in seven Oklahoma counties will be able to conduct business on Sundays according to Tuesday’s unofficial election results. [NonDoc]

Biden, Trump sweep every county on Super Tuesday. Where was their strongest support?: President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden were the big winners following Oklahoma’s Super Tuesday presidential primary contests. With 14 candidates on the ballot, Biden topped the crowded Democratic field as he claimed 38.7% of the statewide vote. [Oklahoma Watch]

Quote of the Day

“I figure if I get sick I’ll just have to pay out of my pocket.”

-Felicia Lewis, an Oklahoman without health insurance [KOCO]

Number of the Day


Older Oklahomans whose deaths may have been prevented by expanding Medicaid in the state

[Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Medicaid Expansion has saved at least 19,000 lives, new research finds: The Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) expansion of Medicaid to low-income adults is preventing thousands of premature deaths each year, a landmark study finds. It saved the lives of at least 19,200 adults aged 55 to 64 over the four-year period from 2014 to 2017. Conversely, 15,600 older adults died prematurely because of state decisions not to expand Medicaid. The lifesaving impacts of Medicaid expansion are large: an estimated 39 to 64 percent reduction in annual mortality rates for older adults gaining coverage. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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